Oniyome

I’ve made various references to Japan’s misogynistic culture a number of times.  I’d like to take a minute to talk about a specific example of this.

There’s a new word in the Japanese language called “oniyome” or 鬼嫁 in Japanese.  This word has only been part of the common vernacular for less than 10 years although the attitude certainly existed long before that.  Oni or 鬼 means “demon” and yome or 嫁 means “bride”.  Yes, this word refers to “demonbrides”.

“Holy Bananas!” you exclaim   “What must one do to be labeled a ‘demonbride’!?”  This word refers to those women who have the gall and sheer audacity of doing the unthinkable.  Something so awful they must certainly be called a demon.

These are women who return to work after having a baby.

#Cue horror scream and creepy Twilight Zone music#

Yes, in Japan as a woman if you have a baby and return to work, you are now a demon worthy of pure public scorn.  In a recent study 70% of all women quit their jobs (women don’t really have “careers” in Japan) after having their first kid.  This correlates pretty well with the 70% of respondents who said women should quit their jobs in such a situation.  You are expected by society to quit your job and “take care of your baby and husband”.

And husband.

This is a nation of man-children.  Most are unable to do simple tasks like cook a meal, do their laundry, or manage their bank account.  It’s really pathetic.  But, when your entire culture forces women to stay home and take care of you I suppose there’s never a need to learn these things.  Moms will take care of their sons usually until the son gets married and either moves out or the wife moves in and takes over the daycare operations.  In the average male’s life there is never a time when they have to do anything for themselves.

It’s good to be the king.  Specifically the king here because the queen is a woman, and in Japan that kind of sucks often times.

A few years ago NHK even made a show called “Oniyome Nikki” – “The Diary of a Devil Wife”.   In this wonderful family comedy, the devil wife is an abusive, overbearing, domineering shrew of a woman who constantly makes her poor husband’s life hell.  Notice the very sly connection here.  “Devil Wife” works after having a kid in real life.  “Devil Wife” abuses her husband and makes his life a living hell on TV show.  They can’t possibly be trying to say anything here, can they?

Japan ranks near the bottom of developed countries with women in the workforce (or is it actually at the bottom now?).  It also ranks way down the list in gender equality.

Most sadly is that this is often the view of Japanese women themselves.  Having grown up in a society that teaches them to be good second-class citizens and always keep one’s mouth shut about everything, most willingly go along with the status-quo.  Naturally, with globalization and the ever increasing influence of the west on Japan this is slowly changing.  However, like everything else in Japan that involves progress or change, it’s a glacial process.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. JS
    Oct 23, 2013 @ 06:10:09

    Thanks for posting this! I was looking for information on what “oniyome” meant and this was extremely informative.

    Reply

  2. Common Sense
    Aug 13, 2014 @ 20:42:40

    Have you ever considered that not all people share your western liberal worldview? How about having respect for others’ cultures? I bet you’d be pretty angry if a Japanese woman criticized you if you had a job after having a child–“Who does she think he is? What right does she have?” you might say.

    “It also ranks way down the list in gender equality.” Again, a metric developed in the western world. You Westerners want nothing more than to continue your imperialism on non-Europeans and non-Westerners. Again, how arrogant do you have to be to consider your way the only correct one? Please keep your ideology to yourself, we don’t need your self-righteous, condescending “help.”

    Sincerely,
    Someone raised in a non-white, non-Western culture

    Reply

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